Canadian Geographic
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Where we live

Expansion at the edges

The “doughnut effect” is the term used to describe the sprawling suburbs and municipalities encircling the stagnant or declining cores of many census metropolitan areas (CMAs). According to the 2001 census, Saskatoon and Regina exemplify this phenomenon.
Between 1996 and 2001, Saskatoon’s core population grew by 1.6 percent, while its surroundings grew by 14.6 percent. In this same period, Regina’s core declined by 1.2 percent; its surroundings increased by 10 percent. A few exceptions are Abbotsford, British Columbia, and the Ottawa-Gatineau area, where the reverse applies: the core is outstripping surroundings. People-scarce city cores have been part of the Canadian urban scene since the 1960s. Until then, many chose to live downtown to be near work. Immigrants settled in central districts where services for newcomers were available. Decades of suburban flight — accelerated by widespread car ownership and extensive expressway construction — have left many city cores empty and inhospitable. Many of the expanding outlying areas have severed connections with the core. These self-sufficient units are part of “the doughnut” that is just getting bigger. Between 1996 and 2001, immigrants to the Toronto city/region swelled the population of three of the ten fastest-growing municipalities: Vaughan, a 37.3 percent increase; Barrie, 31 percent; and Richmond Hill, 29.8 percent. Interprovincial migration fueled the growth in communities along the Calgary-Edmonton corridor, the location of five of the ten fastest-growing Canadian municipalities: Cochrane, a 58.9 percent increase; Sylvan Lake, 44.5 percent; Strathmore, 43.4 percent; Okotoks, 36.8 percent; and Rocky View No. 44, 31.6 percent.


Urban amenities The image on this page is part of a table comparing the urban amenities available in five Canadian cities.


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Rural retreat

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Quiz :

How many Canadian cities ranked in the top 25 cities for quality of life?